A Landscape by Robert Seldon Duncanson Acquired by the Amon Carter Museum

Robert Seldon Duncanson (1821–1872),
The Caves, 1869
Oil on Canvas - H. around 90 cm
Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Photo : Amon Carter Museum of American Art

7/5/13 - Acquisition - Fort Worth, Amon Carter Museum of American Art - The Amon Carter Museum of American Art recently announced the acquisition of a work by Robert Seldon Duncanson (1821-1872), presented as the first Afro-American artist to have gained international stature. Entitled The Caves and painted in 1869, the painting belonged to Reverend Sutton Rust (1815-1906), a Methodist minister, whose family kept it until it was purchased by the museum in 2012. The work was exhibited to the public last 4 May and now hangs in the galleries.
This personal interpretation of wilderness (perhaps Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio) showing three caves and tiny human figures, reveals the influence of the Hudson River School, particularly that of Thomas Cole whose series, The Voyage of Life, Duncanson discovered during its exhibition at the Western Art Union in Cincinnati in 1848 and where nature is the embodiement of a cultural and national identity.

Duncanson grew up with his father in Canada, then moved back to live with his mother near Cincinnati to become an artist. Self-taught, he produced portraits and landscapes, some still-lifes, and also frescoes - notably in 1851 for a building which now houses the Taft Museum of Art. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he left for Montreal then the United Kingdom in 1865, visiting England and Scotland, before returning to Cincinnati in 1866-1867. His work does not systematically reflect his stand against slavery but alludes to it indirectly. In fact, Cincinnati was home to an Afro-American community and a bastion of the abolitionist movement, supported by the owner of The Caves, Richard Sutton Rust. Duncanson also designed illustrations for Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1853 and collaborated with another Afro-American artist, the photographer James Presley Ball (1825-1904) to create an immense panorama on the evils of slavery entitled Mammoth Pictorial Tour of the United States Comprising Views of the Slave Trade.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, lundi 13 mai 2013

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